Seriously, where do I even start with this week?
I know. Let’s start with the weather :). Normally I’m writing my opening rant in the pre-dawn darkness, wrapped up like an eskimo, finger-less gloves, scarf and woolly socks – the works. Not today though – I’m stealing time out of the mid-afternoon to write. It’s one of those days where the clouds have hung low all day, sometimes so heavy that they lie as if exhausted over the hills and mountains; sometimes there is a fine mist and all the time there is a damp chill pervading unbidden through unsealed cracks and crevices. We don’t take the cold at all seriously in Australia – every year we act startled and a little jacked up at the onset of winter. What? Winter again! How could that be? Are you seriously telling me that I can’t wear short sleeves and sandals for 3 whole months? How very unreasonable. There are always those people – mainly teenage girls and battered old farmers it seems – who refuse to submit to the seasons, wearing shorts and t-shirts all year, blue tinged goose pimpled arms and legs whitely exposed to the elements. I was one of those teenage girls so I get it, although I am long past understanding it :).
Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Under 12s soccer game in the morning, lunch and dinner with my brother and his family down for the long weekend, and a writerly weekend in politics at the Bellingen Writer’s Festival. My favourite things? Having a grown up weekend away with the Bear, doing something completely out of the ordinary, being stimulated intellectually and then having grown up, intellectual conversations with each other. The way that we used to talk to each other before kids and the ambushing of our airwaves. Also, he bought me presents – a blanket and a gorgeous bag. I love presents, I really, really do. Give me a present and I am yours forever 🙂
Tuesday: Receive an email telling me that my application to go to University has been approved. What? Just like that? Cue all day excited giddiness 🙂. Receive not one but two present packages in the mail from two different far away friends (did I mention that I love presents?) and to complete a perfect day, do Kakasana (crow) for the very first time in a MYOGA winter sequence. Apparently there is a reason we have spent the last six months building core and body strength. Who knew? I also gained some clarity and calm regarding a rather huge and intimidating catering event we are organising through the P&C which had been tormenting my nights – I actually think it’s going to work out :).
Wednesday: Get an early morning phone call from the Bear – he has broken down on the highway on his way to work. I spend half the day helping him get back on the road and trying to control my sense of outrage at the mechanics who did not fix the part as requested the day before. Not to mention that this was the 8th time that he had been to this mechanics in the past three weeks, for one simple job. I then go home, pick up the boys, take them to soccer training and come home.
Thursday: Wake up at 3:30am with a strong urge to work on a piece I had written a couple of months before which had potential but needed re-working. I had been to an editing and polishing workshop at the Festival and had learnt a few things – apparently you should not try to fix a crap sentence or paragraph but instead write a whole new one above the offending words and then when you are happy with it, cut the paragraph to be deleted and paste it into a (s)craps folder for later use. I published A Year at Home and Other Catastrophes later on when I thought I had done enough with it, and then spent the afternoon in a state of anxiety about having published it at all – who cares, too long, dull, self indulgent, whiny…the torment of a personal blogger 🙂
Friday: Accepted my University offer and enrolled in my first two subjects. Spend all day in a slightly delirious state of excitement and terror. Except when I took my children to the dentist in the middle of the day, where the excitement temporarily subsided and terror rose to take its place. I’ve been meaning to talk about the whole children and dentist thing, and it probably deserves a separate post, but briefly – I worry a lot about my son and his teeth. I should mention here that my son is entirely unperturbed. We went to a new dentist today who I’ve taken my daughter to see a few times, and I blurted out how I felt to her. Best thing I could have done really – once she knew how I felt, she was able to reassure me (and my neuroses), give him a program to improve his dental hygiene and not do a single extraction or filling, thank goodness.
So, do you see why I didn’t know where to start with my week? It’s been a roller coaster, emotional, exciting and terrifying – but I’m facing up to my fears. Fear will not win. Ever.
What fears are you facing up to?
Best Long Read
How I Rescued My Brain: a psychologist’s remarkable recovery from stroke and trauma by David Roland
There was no stand out best short read for me this week – and I think it was probably because I was so engrossed in this book that I discovered at the Writer’s Festival bookshop on Sunday, and which I devoured in only four days. It seemed an uncanny fit with another aspect to this week that didn’t make it into my highlights: mental health. The Bear took a friend to hospital earlier in the week because of mental health issues that were making him a danger to himself. As you can imagine this was deeply confronting and upsetting for everyone involved. Along with reading this totally fascinating book, it reminded me of how very fragile our mental health can be, and also of the times in my life where I have felt fragile mentally. I remember the terrible, consuming anxiety that came along with my first pregnancy (a signpost, I later found, telling me that the child was severely disabled and unlikely to last the gestation let alone beyond). My mental skin becomes super thin for a couple of years surrounding birth and I have to be careful what I take in from the world – certain books, movies, media and even the most mild drugs like caffeine were avoided until my skin thickened again. I intuitively know this about myself, and treat my mental health with care – but so many people don’t, and the consequences are severe.
As a psychologist specialising in court assessments, David Roland often saw the toughest, most heartbreaking cases. The emotional trauma had begun to take its toll — and then the global financial crisis hit, leaving his family facing financial ruin.
So when he found himself in a local emergency ward with little idea of where he was or how he got there, doctors wondered if he had had a nervous breakdown — if the strain of treating individuals with mental-health problems had become too much. Eventually they discovered the truth: David had suffered a stroke, which had resulted in brain injury. He faced two choices: give up or get his brain working again.
Drawing on the principles of neuroplasticity, David set about re-wiring his brain. Embarking on a search that brought him into contact with doctors, neuroscientists, yoga teachers, musicians, and a Buddhist nun, he found the tools to restore his sense of self: psychotherapy, exercise, music, mindfulness, and meditation.
Well, I’m really sorry to do this to you – get some tissues – here however, the tears are just helping us see us how beauty and love go hand in hand with suffering and sadness, but only if we are awake enough to see. This is a mini movie, telling us the story of a man and his dog, from the dog’s perspective. Just beautiful, and thank you to Lisa from Carr Party of Five for sharing <3.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid,
lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
amidst the simple beauty of nature.
As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will,
I know that there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.
And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
I have been doing a little online course for the past few weeks called Witch Camp. It has been thoroughly delightful, and has consisted of daily writing tasks, a weekly theme and ritual, playing with cards, crystals and all kinds of other things. This week has been a little different though – the theme has been elements: air, fire, water, earth, wood and metal – and to explore them we have been playing with writing haiku. You know: Japanese poetry with three lines and a set rhythm: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. I have never written haiku before, and it has been such a lot of fun – and useful too, because the three line limit and syllable structure means that you need to drill down and extract the essence of what you are trying to say. Good for a wordy girl like me 🙂
Here’s one you might like:
The rain settles down
Clouds sinking, mist is rising
World wrapped in water
Do you write haiku?
Well, there’ll be no star gazing here today as the damp weather has rolled over into another day. The boys have gone off to a faraway soccer game – it will take them just under two hours to get there. My daughter has a cold, and a friend has a bad knee which is keeping him at home, so we thought we might bake him some date scones and go sit by his fire and keep him company for a little while. It’s a dark moon this weekend, and I feel like bunkering down after this week: I am thinking cups of tea, games, movies and a start on my reading list for *ahem* my first University units :).
What’s on your radar this weekend?